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Van Gundy won’t ‘bury’ Pierce, KG in All-Star Game 02.07.10 at 4:14 pm ET
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Stan Van Gundy, who coached his Magic to a victory over the Celtics Sunday, will coach the East team in Sunday's All-Star Game. (AP)

Stan Van Gundy, who coached his Magic to a victory over the Celtics Sunday, will coach the East team in Sunday's All-Star Game. (AP)

The temptation is there for Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy. As coach of the East in the NBA All-Star Game on Valentine’s Day, he knows he’ll have three Celtics at his beck and call. He would love to play them a lot, put a few more miles on their tires.

But with the two teams squaring off Sunday at the Garden, a week before the big game at Cowboys Stadium, he doesn’t see much point in wearing out Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo so Celtics coach Doc Rivers doesn’t have to worry too much.

“He’s got a better chance of me resting his guys because we don’t play him again. So, if we played him the week after the All-Star Game, they’d all go about 42 minutes,” Van Gundy joked before Sunday’s game. “But with us not playing them again, I can’t get much out of burying them.”

But seriously, Van Gundy has the challenge every coach in every sport has in an in-season All-Star Game. How do you manage players on competing teams in an exhibition game that means nothing in the standings?

“I would plan to get together with all of them, but particularly I know Paul and Kevin have had injury concerns and see where they are.”

[Click here to hear Van Gundy dish on the Celtics and the All-Star Game.]

So, in doing his homework, Van Gundy is consulting the Celtics — specifically assistant coach Mike Longabardi.

“I just told Michael Longbardi to make sure if Doc has concerns that he lets me know, too, ahead of time,” Van Gundy said.

“I’m not looking to hurt anybody, and at the same time, obviously, Kevin was voted into the game by the fans and Paul’s a perennial All-Star, so fans are going to want to see those guys, so you can’t play them five or six minutes. Particularly Kevin as a starter, he’s got to put in some minutes, but we’ll see where they are and where Doc is.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Second quarter wrap: Celtics vs. Magic at 3:35 pm ET
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Playing one of their most complete quarters in recent memory, the Celtics opened up a 51-40 lead at the half.

The Celtics opened the second quarter with five reserves on the floor, a departure from their usual rotation of either Ray Allen or Paul Pierce teaming up with four bench players. The second unit responded well as Marquis Daniels scored six quick points on post-ups.

Rasheed Wallace also continued his mastery over Dwight Howard by getting Howard to commit a needless offensive foul, the third of the half for the All-Star big man. Howard played just eight minutes in the first half with two points and three rebounds.

The Celtics gradually built a lead that grew to double digits after Rajon Rondo found Pierce for a 3-pointer with a gorgeous look-away pass in traffic. Rondo has 11 points, three rebounds and four assists, while Allen also had 11 points and Pierce added nine. Kevin Garnett was held scoreless but contributed five rebounds and his usual stellar help defense.

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First quarter wrap: Celtics vs. Magic at 3:00 pm ET
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With Paul Pierce back in the lineup, and Marquis Daniels suited up, the Celtics took the floor for the first time this season with all of their top rotation players. They came out suitably aggressive, attacking the basket and getting Dwight Howard in early foul trouble to take a 24-23 lead.

When Howard went to the bench, however, the Magic reeled off seven straight points to take a 17-16 lead. As he did in Orlando the last time these two teams played, Marcin Gortat gave the Magic energy when he came off the bench.

Pierce played 11 minutes and scored six points. Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo also scored six points apiece, while Jameer Nelson led all scorers with seven. Daniels checked in late in the quarter and received a nice ovation.

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Pierce, Daniels make Magical returns at 2:00 pm ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers confirmed before Sunday’s game that Paul Pierce and Marquis Daniels will play against the Magic. Pierce missed the last two games with a left mid-foot strain while Daniels has been out since having surgery on a torn ligament in his left thumb.

“I didn’t think he looked great [Saturday] so we’ll just see,” Rivers said. “A lot of times, it’s just him testing it out instead of playing on it so it can fool you.”

Rivers said he did something he rarely does. He asked Pierce how he feels the day of the game.

“I went to him today, which I rarely do and went back to him, ‘Are you sure?’ And he said, ‘The pain’s on the top of the foot. It’s not anything under the foot. I can push off fine I just hope I don’t get kicked in it or stepped on.

“I said, ‘I’m sure that’s going to happen now.’ That’s all he’s concerned with.”

[Click here to hear Rivers talk about Pierce's return before the game.]

Pierce didn’t speak before the game about his return but Daniels did.

“I’m pretty excited,” Daniels said. “I’m ready to get out there and get active.”

His only concern is not having the thumb tested by getting it whacked in practice first before game action. To soften the expected blow, he will wear a bandage with a cushion on his left thumb.

“I still didn’t get it hit,” Daniels added. “I’m quite sure that somebody’s going to hit it today.”

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Kiki on his Nets: ‘We hung right in there’ 02.05.10 at 11:23 pm ET
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Nets head coach Kiki Vandeweghe addresses media after Celtics beat the Nets, 96-87, in Boston to drop his team to 4-45 on the season.

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Doc on Pierce: Still ‘Day-to-day’ at 7:45 pm ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Paul Pierce continued his cardio workout on Friday but is still unsure whether the team’s captain will be able to return on Sunday for the showdown with the Orlando Magic at TD Garden.

“It’s day-to-day,” Rivers said of Pierce’s left mid-foot strain. “That’s about it, really. He’s moving around, shooting around a little bit. I don’t know yet.”

Marquis Daniels, meanwhile, will practice again on Saturday but Rivers said there’s still no guarantee he’ll be ready to play against Orlando. Rivers’ main concern is not the thumb but rather the ability of Daniels to run the team’s offensive sets that have been installed since he last played on Dec. 4.

“I’m not so sure about him on Sunday.” Rivers, whether Daniels will be prepared to return. “We’ll have to throw him in eventually.”

For Daniels, it’s his 28th straight game missed following ligament surgery on his left thumb.

[Click here to listen to Doc Rivers compare the 2010 Nets to the 24-win 2007 Celtics.]

Other pregame notes included Rivers’ thoughts on being the third-longest tenured coach with one team in the NBA behind Jerry Sloan [Utah] and Gregg Popovich [San Antonio].

“Really, I didn’t know that,” Rivers said. “That’s unbelievable. You Boston guys [media], I thought you were tough. That’s surprising. They’re some guys out there that clearly should be doing this a lot longer than me. You know how this league is – it’s a talent-based league. If you have enough of it and do your job with it, then you stay.

The pregame discussion ended with his thoughts on Sunday’s big game between Indianapolis and New Orleans.

“Super Bowl predictions?,” Rivers said, repeating the question asked of him. “The Saints, what the [heck]. No reason for that. Maybe the reason is I’ve heard about Colts. I wondered if [the Colts] were playing anybody so I’m going with the other team.”

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Preview: Celtics vs. Nets at 9:35 am ET
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It's been a long season for Devin Harris and the Nets. (AP)

It's been a long season for Devin Harris and the Nets. (AP)

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the NBA version of the dreaded trap game. On the face of things, there is no conceivable reason why the Celtics should lose to the Nets. But when you factor in the absence of Paul Pierce, the nationally televised showdown with the Magic looming on Super Bowl Sunday and the fact that the All-Star beak is right around the corner, this is the kind of effort and focus game everyone has spent so much time talking about.

The Celtics are beginning to get on a nice little role. They’ve won two straight and should make it three against New Jersey. That would give them a chance to calm down all the rumors and innuendo, and there is nothing the veterans on this team like more than calm. A loss would bring all those distractions back into play.

NETS (4-44, 1-9 last 10)

Points Per Game: 90.0

Points Allowed: 101.7

Differential: -11.7 (30th)

Offensive Efficiency: 97.5 (30th)

Defensive Efficiency: 110.2 (27th)

Pace: 92.2 (17th)

Likely Starters: Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Yi Jianlian, Brook Lopez

Injuries: None

CELTICS (31-16, 4-6 last 10)

Points Per Game: 99.3

Points Allowed: 93.8

Differential: +5.6 (3rd)

Offensive Efficiency: 107.8 (13th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.8 (1st)

Pace: 91.5 (22nd)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Tony Allen Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: Marquis Daniels (Thumb), Paul Pierce (Foot) Read the rest of this entry »

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